Mary Ann-Sieghart

Dear Mary | 7 July 2016

Plus: was I wrong to enjoy the view of a young woman flashing her knickers?

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Q. My son goes into his final year at school this September and I would like him to be able to duck out of next summer’s leavers’ bonding trip. This seems to have become a compulsory fixture despite the school abdicating all responsibility for planning it to the inexperienced upper-sixth-formers. Some of this year’s leavers were physically attacked by gangs during their week on

a Spanish island and some had clearly joined in with all the degradation on offer and the attendant health risks. The parents tried to arrange an early evacuation but the boys insisted on toughing it out. The school claims this event is a worthwhile rite of passage but I fear the risks are not worth taking and wonder how you would advise my own son to avoid being peer-pressured into taking part.

— Name and address withheld

A. The way to pre-empt such a riskathon is to get him to elect on day one of the Michaelmas Term to take on the role of bonding trip planner and treasurer. Having found out how much each leaver ‘wants’ to spend, you, the parent, should find a vice-free resort such as Shipan in Croatia, to which package holidays will cost more than the traditional hell-zones, and quietly subsidise the extra cost yourself. The other leavers will be too lazy and too busy to want to plan a rival holiday somewhere less ‘lame’and will go placidly along when leavers’ week rolls around.

Q. In a tunnel leading to the platforms at a large provincial railway station, I had the following dilemma. I am a man aged 75 and in front of me a young woman slung her rucksack on to her back, taking her skirt with it and revealing her sky-blue briefs. My first impulse was to catch her up and tell her, but I felt that would have been embarrassing for both of us so I let events unfold and enjoyed the view during the long walk to the platform, where she put down the sack without having been aware anything was amiss. Discussing my dilemma with friends later, it was suggested that I should have found a nearby woman to break the news but I can’t imagine that this would have been possible. What do you think?

— R.S., by email

A. It was your duty to alert the girl to the provocation.You need only have mentioned that her clothing was entangled with the bag. She would have had no way of knowing the degree of her unintentional flashing.

Q. I am looking for a theme for a forthcoming fancy-dress party I am planning to throw but cannot think of anything that hasn’t already been done. Any ideas?

— L.B., London W11

A. I understand that a very successful but underused theme is ‘come as your own mother’, not least because the costumes are usually readily at hand.